Staff Reporters
Aug 1, 2016

CASE STUDY: Rebooting the Powerpuff Girls

How Turner Asia-Pacific reached young new fans, and their parents, for the relaunch of a beloved animated series.

Background and aim

A new series of The Powerpuff Girls, one of Cartoon Network’s most popular and enduring brands, premiered in April—18 years after the initial debut. In Asia Pacific, the network sought to captivate a new generation of young fans as well as re-engage an audience of parents that remembered the series from their childhood.

The regional marketing and communications team implemented a strategy that went beyond the boundaries of promoting a show on TV to include apps, websites, YouTube influencers, on-the-ground events and an array of distribution platforms beyond television. 

Execution

Before work in Asia started, a parade at SxSW that went out live on Periscope and a collaboration with fashion designer Jeremy Scott and Moschino hit international headlines, laying the foundation for a regional campaign.

To reach as many touchpoints beyond the living-room screen as possible, episodes were made available for free on iTunes and streamed concurrently with the TV premiere on Cartoon Network’s websites and YouTube channels. Apps including the a game called Flipped Out supplemented awareness for the title, as did a live watch-along video with popular Australia-based YouTube influencer, Jamie’s World.

While the latter approach had never been done before, and was ultimately successful, the video would have been improved if she had less direction and maintained her usual format and style.

Meanwhile, more than 30,000 participants took part in Powerpuff-themed events across Southeast Asia, including 6,000 fun-runners in Taipei and thousands more at Easter and Mother’s Day stunts in the Philippines.

In addition, Cartoon Network invited celebrity singers to record their own versions of the series’ theme music—a critical tactic to further localise the campaign. Notably, Shila Amzah, the standout star in the hit reality shows Asian Wave 2012 and I am a Singer 2014, performed the song in Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese. In Australia, Alexa Curtis, who won The Voice Kids 2014, and Taiwanese celebrity Waa Wei also recorded local versions. The Japan team selected May J, who is known nationally for the local version of “Let It Go” from Frozen.

Even on-air, the campaign was far from traditional. For the first time in Turner’s history, one series took over all of its channels for the premiere—an on-air “roadblock” that saw general-entertainment channels including Warner TV, Oh!K and TCM Turner Classic Movies broadcasting the debut episodes in addition to the kid-oriented Toonami, Boomerang, POGO and Cartoon Network. This strategy meant that the total on-air reach increased to well over 100 million households in Asia Pacific. And, far from simply scheduling the content to air “as is”, specific promos and spots were created that matched the individual brand and packaging of the channel.

Results

Cartoon Network has never had a show launch that hit so many different platforms and expanded its audience across so many linear and non-linear channels, according to the company. In the past, a show would survive or fizzle depending on TV ratings, and while they were positive for this launch, the campaign was far more interested in expanding reach.

In markets like Australia, where Pay-TV penetration is relatively low (approximately 30 percent of households), platforms like YouTube, Facebook and iTunes allowed the free “teaser” episode to reach audiences that didn’t subscribe to Foxtel. In three days, the video on Facebook alone had 336,000 video views with 1.2 million people reached. It also provided an additional 10 percent increase in fans in April, the page’s highest single recorded growth in one month.

The watch-along video, via the Jamie’s World YouTube channel, was generally successful, generating 80,000 views and 3,000 likes. But its value again was in terms of reaching new and previously-untapped demographics. Pre-promoted by Jamie on Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter and Cartoon Network platforms, there was a total engagement of 180,000 and 1.5 million total impressions.

The wildly popular #powerpuffyourself avatar maker has created over 15 million avatars globally since it was introduced in early April, including over 1.3 million in Japan. Across the region, media outlets and bloggers used the site to create Powerpuff versions of celebrities and politicians, heightening awareness.

The Powerpuff Girls is one of the top-grossing Cartoon Network brands of all time, with over US$2.5 billion in retail sales generated since its debut. This new installment is certainly well placed to add to that. Its consumer products launch will begin in late 2016, so data on this will not be available for a few months.

CREDITS

The Cartoon Network regional Marcomms team:

Gregory Ho, VP, corporate communication and marketing, Turner Asia Pacific
Nicole Schneiderjohn, director of PR and marketing, Turner - Southeast Asia Pacific
James Moore, director of communications, Turner Asia Pacific

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